After a courageous 10 year fight battling Carcinoid Cancer, Sunny Carney, of Plum, passed peacefully on Saturday, November 3. She was married to her devoted husband, Mark; and was a loving mother to Austen, Logan and Nolan; daughter of Patricia Jennings and the late James J. Jennings; daughter-in-law of Dale and Dottie Carney; sister of Judy Phillips (Ray Jr.), Lynn Pesta (Teddy), Michael Jennings (Vicki Lynn), James Jennings (Sue), Joseph Jennings (Elizabeth), Sheila Fortes (Jim); sister-in-law of Craig Carney (Julia). She is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, and was a true friend and inspiration to many.
In addition to being an inspiration to family and friends Sunny inspired carcinoid cancer patients across the globe through her blog, and then her book "The Sunny Side of Cancer. She spoke at numerous cancer events locally sharing stories of her journey which led her from Basel, Switzerland to all of the top Carcinoid Cancer specialists here in the states. She was an advocate for better diagnosis of the disease and for insurance coverage of treatments. She fought with grace and dignity, never letting the pain inside challenge her faith or diminish her love for life.
Memorials may be made to "Carney Family Fund", c/o S&T Bank, 2190 Hulton Road, Verona, PA 15147.
Friends received Monday 7-9 p.m. and Tuesday 3-8 p.m. at Unity Community Church, 215 Unity Center Road, Plum, PA 15239.
Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Unity Community Church with Rev. Frank Deluce officiating. Arrangements entrusted to CHARLES W. TRENZ FUNERAL HOME, INC.
VIEW GUEST BOOK Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After over a decade of suffering from Carcinoid Cancer, Sunny Jennings Carney has decided to fight back. She has currently undergone two proven treatments in Basel, Switzerland and is planning to return for two more. She is also planning on going to Houston, Texas for a six month period to undergo experimental treatments that look promising but are not FDA approved. She has exhausted all the FDA approved treatments here in the United States and will not accept that this is all there is for her. She has dedicated her fight to help others understand this rare cancer and to find successful treatments in the United States. Her strong faith in God and will to never quit has turned a 6 month life expectancy to over two years presently.

Below is an entry that was written by Sunny's husband Mark when she had her third bout. To become updated on her journey please enjoy her posts.

Please check back for updates and event information.

Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund
C/o S & T Bank
2190 Hulton Road
Verona, PA 15147

Sunny's husband Mark tells their story...

A mother of three boys, a daughter, the baby sister to a large family, an aunt, a godmother to several, a trusted friend, an outreach volunteer, a business owner and my wife. Sunny Carney lives up to her name every time someone speaks to her; she is beautiful both in and out. She has been my biggest motivator, my rock and my inspiration in tough times, my biggest fan in good times, and most importantly my best friend. Told 14 years ago that having children may not be part of our future because of ovarian cancer, she kept the faith, and is a wonderful mother to our three sons- Austen, Logan, and Nolan. She is always ensuring that they know the Lord, love of life, kindness to others, hard work, and occasionally when to "shape up".

Her boundless energy, healthy lifestyle and positive attitude are infectious. She has served as president of our children’s PTA, organized committees that benefit those who are less fortunate in the community and led drives for those who have been caught up in unfortunate situations. She has done so much for others, usually without letting anyone ever know, I could not begin to list them. Her strong faith in God and modest upbringing has given her a sense of giving that only she can explain. When she successfully started her own photography business, she also started a non-profit division photographing family portraits for area families fighting cancer. Her friends say she is amazing and she simply shakes her head and wonders what all of the fuss is about.

Her mother, sisters, brothers and large extended family will tell you she is the one you can count on to lend an ear when needed and never judge. She was raised by her loving mother and father who was the warden of the Allegheny County Jail and actually spent most of her childhood in the residence connected to the jail. At a young age she witnessed more of life’s tragedies and obstacles through her neighbors, the prisoners, than most of us can imagine.

Although all of the aforementioned is remarkable it is not what makes her truly special. Sunny is a two time cancer survivor and now is currently fighting for a third time. After beating ovarian carcinoid cancer and undergoing serious surgery for carcinoid tumors in her right lung just three years ago, the carcinoid tumors returned in her lymph nodes, liver and bones. The size and proliferation throughout the liver of these tumors mandates immediate chemotherapy in four treatments over the next few months as well as monthly octreotide treatments. These painful treatments will hopefully stop the growth but are not a cure. There are numerous tumors in her spine, her skull, her hip, her leg, and her shoulder...all in the bones and she will wait on potential radiation to fight those.

What my wife has is Carcinoid Cancer Syndrome, an endocrine disease which is rare and spreads from organ to organ. As of right now the only known treatment for remission is administered by renowned clinics in Europe. However the treatment is not covered by our insurance. Our doctors have encouraged us to start raising money and matching grants could follow. Her lead oncologist strongly believes that Sunny would be a prime candidate to be a voice to get the message out regarding carcinoid cancer syndrome, bring this treatment to the United States and encourage approval from the FDA. Without this treatment, the tumors most likely will continue to metastasize in other organs and her fight will be ongoing. Sunny has set up The Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund to support her treatments. She believes that once she beats this cancer she can make a difference to others also suffering from Carcinoid Cancer.

Mark A. Carney

Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund
C/o S & T Bank
2190 Hulton Road
Verona, PA 15147

Thursday, July 9, 2009

One Door Closes, Another Opens

I got on my computer to blog about the wonderful day I had with some friends. I first went to my emails, as I always do, and I got the following Bible verse sent to me. Since God comes first I thought I would spread this news first. So the wonderful day post will come soon.

When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go, only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly!
Revelations 3:8

To believe this is having true faith. This is what has gotten me through this cancer journey and many other journeys I have gallop through in my life. There are many times we are hanging off the edge of the cliff and we just stop and not go further because of fear. But we need to trust that He will be there to save us or to teach us how to fight through. I know that is what God has and continues to do for me throughout this whole "cancer thing". I also believe that he is not just teaching me but others around me. So many times I hear that I truly can not be at peace with this whole diagnoses and I must be holding it all in. I have had friends and family tell me that I can be angry or upset if I want to be or that I don't have to always have such a good attitude. It has gone as far as having my oncologist giving me names of psychiatrist to talk to because he is afraid I have not accepted what he is telling me. If I was looking in on my life I would think the same thing about me as well, so I don't blame anyone for thinking that. But I will strongly tell you I am truly at peace with this whole cancer. I may not be at peace with how those around me handle things but I am at peace with my actions in this journey.

I must admit it is easy to be positive when you trust that He knows what is planned for you. I remember in college when I was stressing over getting a perfect grade on a test once. Now I think back to how much time I wasted in trying to be perfect at everything. Mark thought I was totally insane and he said to me, "if you do all you can do to make it happen, then the rest is out of your control. Don't worry over things you can not control." That has stuck with me forever, (I only wish Mark will take his advise at times) but I have taken it further as to say, "the rest in God's control". I am not going to pretend that I never get upset or down. Trust me I have had my times of defeat. But I can say that my hope and faith has gotten me through those times quickly. It seems that I always have some blessings to pick me up. It is those times that he catches me.

The journey itself of stage 4 cancer is how He teaches me how to fly. There are times when I pray so hard to take this all way. Or I pray to end the treatments. Or I pray to make this treatment be the miracle. Or I pray to give my doctors the knowledge of this rare cancer. Or I may pray to give my family a normal life without sadness and stress. God could easily have me wake up one day and this cancer all be over. He can give any miracle. But that is not how he teaches me or my family and friends to fly. By given into to every request we make to Him, He would not be doing the job of a father. He is given us the tools we need to live with adversity. As a mother I completely understand what He is doing. It takes me to a time when I am in a store with my children and they beg and beg for that one thing they can not live without. Sure it is easy for me to pick it up and just pay for it and sometimes I do (when I catch them). But other times I make them earn it or pay for it themselves. There are times when my boys want it so bad that they do what ever it takes (that's when I teach them to fly), but other times when they step back they realize they don't really want it anyways.

There has been so many times in my life that one door has closed and right next to me is another that is open. Sometimes I have kept knocking on the closed door afraid to go into the open one. Those are the times when I have missed opportunities because I can not except that the door I thought I wanted is now closed. Little did I know then that on the other side of the open door is what God has planned for me, not what I had planned for myself. I have had many doors closed while navigating through cancer: Doctors telling me there is no hope, financial pressures telling me I cannot afford certain treatments, doctors that are experts in my cancer practicing hundreds of miles away, medications that cost as much as my monthly mortgage payments, doctors that don't return my calls, and family pressures. The difference is I don't have time to keep knocking on those closed doors now. I have learned that when you are faced with a life or death situation God opens another door for you and gives you the courage to go through them quickly. I have gone through them and have had an amazing journey.

So I have to end this by saying I am not crazy, I just have faith. Believing that your life is in God's hands is taking control of any situation.

When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go, only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly! Revelations 3:8


P.S. don't forget to register your team for the wiffle ball tournament.